Car crashes and collisions are a common occurrence in Portland and across the country. While law enforcement continues to crack down on drivers who violate traffic rules and regulations and public safety campaigns aim to reduce dangerous driving behaviors, car accidents and injuries continue to occur.
Portland, in addition to other major U.S. cities, has adopted a new campaign aimed at eliminating motor vehicle deaths by shifting the focus from driver mistakes and errors to the streets and traffic patterns that are often involved in these accidents.
Vision Zero is a global campaign that is having a tremendous influence locally, with the goal of reducing the current number of traffic-related injuries or deaths to zero over the course of the next ten years.
What is Vision Zero?
Vision Zero is a safety strategy first introduced in Sweden in the 1990s, that has since been adopted around the world and in cities across the United States as a way of eliminating car accidents and injuries. According to the Vision Zero Network, over 30,000 people are killed in accidents each year throughout the country, with many more suffering serious injuries. While law enforcement, traffic safety experts, and policymakers have all been working on their own to help reduce the overall number of accidents and injuries, these accidents continue to occur. Vision Zero aims to combine and coordinate their efforts, focusing on specific strategies that have been proven to save lives. These strategies include:
- Lowering speed limits, a common factor in deadly accidents;
- Redesigning streets to improve traffic and safety;
- Implementing behavior change campaigns, such as those reducing distracted driving and driving under the influence;
- Enhancing traffic enforcement, by using data to respond to problems where they commonly occur.
How Vision Zero is Impacting Portland
Portland is one of many cities throughout the country who have made a commitment to reducing traffic related violence, and through the Vision Zero program, it hopes to eliminate traffic injuries and fatalities by the year 2025. According to the Portland Bureau of Transportation, as part of a two-year action plan Vision Zero has already begun implementing the following programs:
- The High Crash Corridor Program: This program identifies those areas which have high concentrations of car accidents and injuries, in order to target resources more effectively and improve safety.
- Fixed Speed Safety Cameras: Cameras that automatically check speeds and ticket drivers help to discourage speeding, while increasing protection for pedestrians and other motorists;
- East Portland Flash Beacon Project: This project will improve the safety for pedestrian and bicycle crossing at 17 different intersections in East Portland that are known to be particularly dangerous.
Other projects include improving transportation options, increased enforcement of existing traffic rules and regulations, and making sure streets and sidewalks are designed to accommodate residents both young and old, as well as those with disabilities.